• Tom Cleary

Don’t Live in a Ballot Box


This past election day I posted on my personal Facebook timeline a picture celebrating National Sandwich Day, which as it turned out was on election day. I tagged it with the line that this was easily the most important thing going on that day. I received the usual smattering of likes and ha ha emojis. I am sure that everyone thought I was making a joke, and perhaps I was at first blush. Upon further reflection I realized that I really wasn’t joking; it was, if not the most important thing going on that day, certainly more important than the election.

Many will, of course, disagree. However, I stand by my position. Plainly, as I have repeatedly pointed out there is no substantive difference between either major party; certainly, no moral difference. That being the case, there is no reason to spend much of your waking hours stewing over which party wins or loses. In the current configuration of our political culture everyone loses. That does not mean that we should not care about what happens in our political life, we should very much care. I have staked quite a bit of time and belief on the idea that we should care. If God calls you to overt activism in the opposition to an idolatrous, violent criminal organization known as the state then you should get busy in that activism.

If God does not call you to this type of activism, then what shall you do? As in most things, we can have a much greater impact on our world simply by living out our faith. Engage in ministry; food banks, homeless shelters, support for Christian education, any number of various ways you can serve and proclaim whom you follow and serve. Trust me people will notice. This can and will have a terrific evangelical effect on drawing people closer to the faith, if for no other reason than they will want to see what it is that motivates someone to so serve. None of this has anything to do with politics, thanks be to God!

There is another way that you can proclaim your faith and its vastly more important role in our life than politics. That is by not getting wrapped up, like so many do, in living their lives inside of a ballot box. We all know the type; we see them everywhere on social media and on the news. They define their existence by whether or not they are on Team Red or Team Blue. Everything they live and breathe is about politics. The coffee they drink, the soap they use, the car they drive, the light bulbs they burn are all political statements. Whether or not they even want a conversation with you is dependent upon your political ideology. We can, however, simply refuse to play this game. We can recognize that this is about virtue signaling and the desire to impose their values upon others. That of course is the sine qua non of government and politics is simply the acquisition and maintenance of power. We can choose to live our lives outside of the ballot box and outside of the world of team this or team that.

This is where National Sandwich Day comes in. Recognize that we still live in a world mostly outside of the political realm. Yes, that world is shrinking but we can expand it. First, think about your normal day. In your work, do you really think about or care whether your co-workers or customers are Trump or Biden supporters; is it even relevant? When you go to the store do you care if the cashier is a Trump or Biden supporter? If you have a plumber come over, do you check their party registration? Of course not, it just doesn’t matter. When you go to celebrate National Sandwich Day, do you go get a Biden BLT or a Trump turkey sandwich? No, you simply go get what pleases you and you are grateful for the purveyor being there with what you desire. We still live, for the most part in the world of voluntary cooperation and consensual exchange. Celebrate that, enjoy it. Work to expand the blessings of this world to more and more people. This is the world of the double thank you, politics of course is the world of the double fuck you. Which world do you really think God would rather us inhabit? Which world produces things of beauty? Which world is full of ugliness? Living in front of a sandwich counter beats the hell out of living in a ballot box every time.

Unashamedly and unabashedly choose to live in this world. It is plainly true that we can create a better world by reducing the role of power and politics in our lives and we can do so on our own in the way we conduct ourselves day to day. Doing so will make a statement that politics is ultimately irrelevant to God and is in fact destructive to His will being done on earth as in heaven. It is not too late to salvage what remains of this, better, more joyful and more humane world. As Rev 3:2 tells us “wake up and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death”. I swear to you it is not too late.

Praise Be to God

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